450. Airgram From the Mission to the United Nations to the Department of State 1



  • PRC in 26th GA: The Last Three Weeks


  • USUN 47972
Summary. The PRC Delegation’s official participation in the final three weeks of the 26th UNGA was limited to irregular attendance in the Plenary and several Committees. During this same period, however, the Chinese actively participated in Security Council meetings, particularly those on the Indo-Pak War, which spilled over into the GA. The Delegation has charted an active course for the new year, accepting seats on ECOSOC, the Committee of 24, and ACABQ. On the social side, PRC diplomats continue to move with ease through the cocktail circuit and, although social contacts with American officers are limited, administrative dealings have grown. End summary.
In the final three weeks of the UNGA (December 4 to December 22), the PRC Delegation only irregularly attended meetings of the Plenary, Special Political Committee, First, Third and Fifth Committees, and did not participate in the other three Committees. While the vitriolic nature of their Security Council (SC) statements on the Indo-Pakistan War made these the most memorable, the Chinese also spoke on eight other issues in various UN bodies:
Indo-Pak War: After the U.S. took the initiative to bring the Indo-Pak War to the SC, the PRC adopted a one hundred percent pro-Pakistan position. Except for their statements in Plenary prior to and after the GA vote, the PRC spoke on the war during this period only in the SC. The issue marked an escalation of the ideological clash with the Soviets in the UN. (See USUN 4861.)3 The Chinese tabled their first (and to date only) UN resolution during the SC debate. They tabled the resolution for tactical reasons and did not press for a vote on their resolution. (Statements on this issue were made in Plenary on December [Page 899]7; statements were made in the SC on December 4, 5, 6, 12, 13, 14, 15 and 21.)
Admission of the United Arab Emirates to the UN: While the PRC approved the admission of this new state, they noted differences on the question of admission among the Arab States (the People’s Democratic Republic of Yemen had opposed admission). They said they hoped the Arab States would resolve problems among themselves in the interest of Arab solidarity and the struggles against imperialism, colonialism and neo-colonialism. (Statements made in the Committee on Admission of New Members and in the SC on December 7 and 8.)
Southern Rhodesia: The Chinese accused the UK of conniving with Ian Smith. The UK, they said, wished to end sanctions against the Salisbury regime in order to legalize racist rule. Thus, with the support of the UK and the US, Southern Rhodesia would become another South Africa. The PRC proclaimed its support for the struggle of the Zimbabwe people against colonialism. (Statement made in the SC on December 8.)
Middle East: The Israeli Zionists, with US support, launched the “war of aggression”, the Chinese said, and the UN, without distinguishing between right and wrong, had merely passed resolutions encouraging aggression in the name of “maintaining peace.” The PRC called on all countries to strongly condemn Zionist aggression, US imperialism and reactionary forces in Jordan for the repression of Palestinian people. Israeli Zionists must withdraw from occupied territories, while the legitimate rights of Palestinian and other Arab peoples must be decided by themselves. (Statement made in Plenary on December 8. The PRC abstained on the ME Resolution, which was adopted 79–7–36 (US).)
Disarmament (Resolution on Suspension of Nuclear Testing): The PRC delegate briefly stated China’s opposition to the resolution: such a resolution was insignificant unless linked to complete elimination of nuclear weapons, and therefore these resolutions would not prevent the use of such weapons. He said China would vote against all drafts. (Statement made in First Committee on December 9. All three test ban resolutions passed. PRC and Albania cast the only negative votes.)
Cyprus: Explaining that the PRC felt the Cyprus Question was a left-over from imperialist rule, the Chinese said it should be settled by countries concerned on the basis of equality. (Statement made in SC on December 13. China was present but did not participate in the vote. Resolution adopted 14–0–0.)
World Disarmament Conference: With a brief recapitulation of Vice Foreign Minister Ch’iao Kuan-hua’s bloc-busting speech of November 24, Permanent Representative Huang Hua stated his country’s [Page 900]prerequisites for a WDC which were a pledge of non-first use of nuclear weapons and withdrawal of all forces from nuclear bases outside their territories. Given this understanding of China’s position, the PRC would vote in favor. (Statement made in GA on December 16. Resolution adopted unanimously.)
Advisory Committee on Administrative and Budgetary Questions (ACABQ) Elections: At the PRC’s only appearance in the Fifth Committee, Counsellor Hsing Sung-yi expressed appreciation for his election to ACABQ. (Statement made on December 16. Hsing received 60 votes.) On the last day of the GA during an organizational meeting, Hsing, on invitation of the Chairman, attended the ACABQ closed meeting with his interpreter but did not participate in the discussion. He did make a brief non-substantive comment in Chinese.
Credentials Committee Report: China made a brief statement that it believed the delegations of the Khmer Republic and South Africa were unqualified to represent the peoples of their countries in the UN. (Statement made in GA on December 20.)
The PRC, initially slow to get involved in full discussions of the Secretary-General succession, did participate in five power consultations that began in the first week of December. The Chinese indicated a strong preference for an LA candidate, insisting that Herrera and Valdez, both of Chile, be included on the list. They did so despite clear indications that these candidates would receive a U.S. veto. In the five power talks, the Chinese argued that while geography should not be the overriding criterion in the selection of a Secretary-General, it should play a role. Having made this point in supporting the Latin Americans, they announced they could support Jakobson. The Chinese allegedly told the Finns and the Norwegians that they would veto Waldheim until the bitter end but did not carry through on this reported promise. Reasons for their final acquiescence in the selection of Waldheim are not known, but it is probable that they included all or a combination of the following: a continued veto would have isolated the PRC as the lone vote preventing selection of a successor; a disinclination to end the UNGA without naming a successor; and possibly an assumption that of the candidates that others would not veto, Waldheim would discharge the duties of Secretary-General in a manner most acceptable to them. The Chinese also reportedly told the Norwegians that it was necessary to have a new Secretary-General who could put the UN’s house in order.
In the final phase of the UNGA the Chinese committed themselves to participation in a wide range of activities: the Committee of 24 (colonial issues); ECOSOC; the Special Committee on the Financial Situation of the UN; and the Host Country Committee. According to a Japanese Officer, the Chinese made their choices from a recommended [Page 901]list prepared by the Secretariat. PRC delegates have also attended meetings of the Committee of 77 and its Asian sub-group, although not yet members of either. They have indicated interest in participating in the Law of the Sea Conference, the Seabed Committee and in the UN (Stockholm) Environment Conference (the Canadians have passed to the PRC all background documents on the latter conference).
According to some delegates, the PRC attendance and activity in the Committee of 77 may have been a factor in the 77’s pressing successfully to increase Part VI of the regular UN budget (which provides funds for the regular program of technical assistance) from 6.9 to 8.7 million. Chinese support for the prevailing LDC attitude was a factor in overcoming the opposition of some of the larger developed countries, including the US, UK and USSR, which for various reasons would have preferred that such increases take the form of voluntary contributions. Some delegates also believe that China’s support for the doubling of the membership of ECOSOC from 27 to 54 apparently influenced some of those LDC’s which had previously opposed enlargement to change their votes. While clearly the activities of the fiscal, economic and social sides of the UN are of interest to the Chinese, limited knowledge of the workings of these UN organs may force them to move slowly. Their claims on jobs in the Secretariat dealing with these subjects will give a better idea of their intentions.
The Chinese continued their energetic and effective corridor activity during the month in connection with both GA and SC issues as well as in their assiduous pursuit of strengthened relations generally. Notably, during the India-Pakistan debate in the Security Council, the Japanese, to their obvious pleasure, found the Chinese delegates wholly accessible and engaged them often in informal discussions regarding the substance of resolutions as well as in more casual exchanges. The Belgians also found the Chinese to be approachable, dealing with them informally in the Council as they naturally would with other delegations. (The USSR and U.S. delegations were virtually alone in keeping their distance from the Chinese during the SC debate.)
With the annual increase in the pace of social events as the GA drew to a close, the Chinese correspondingly increased their attendance on the cocktail circuit. Several Chinese delegates met and spoke to American officers at these functions, which ranged from the celebration of Burundi’s independence to a Thai National Day. The number of Chinese present at any given function appeared to be directly related to the warmth of the relationship between the PRC and the host government (e.g., wall-to-wall Chinese were present at the celebration of Tanzania’s Independence Day). The Chinese seemed to pay particular attention to representatives of African and Latin American countries. At several functions the ubiquitous Kao Liang, PRC First Secretary, was observed singling out delegates to introduce them to Vice [Page 902]Foreign Minister Ch’iao or Permanent Representative Huang. Although many delegates expressed apprehension over the ramifications for the UN of the Sino-Soviet clashes, the PRC version of personal diplomacy appears effective and to have assisted in establishing the warm relationships necessary for informal lobbying.
Although the PRC did not accept a USUN invitation to a reception for the Third Committee, as the UNGA neared completion the Chinese did demonstrate that they were prepared to deal directly with USUN rather than the Secretariat on host country and administrative matters. In addition, the PRC Mission has begun to mail, apparently regularly, English-language statements and selected newspaper editorials from the mainland press to USUN. The envelopes carry mimeographed address stickers and presumably this material is also sent to all UN Missions.
In the final three weeks, Chinese delegates were not active in tabling new resolutions or drafting suggestions. They did however, work closely with other missions, asking other delegations to communicate PRC positions on various issues. Pakistan transmitted PRC views on the texts of resolutions on the Indo-Pak War which came before the SC. The PRC passed on its intention to participate in the Seabed Committee meeting via Ceylon, although this interest was also volunteered to a USUN Mission officer when the latter assured a PRC delegate that the U.S. hoped the Chinese would not misconstrue a subsequent U.S. vote to mean opposition to the addition of the PRC to the Seabed Committee (see USUN 5105).4 The Chinese negotiated with other delegations the final compromise language of the WDC resolution (see USUN 5144).5
In all, the Chinese demonstrated considerable flexibility during the final phase of the 26th UNGA in the sense that they were willing either to vote in favor of or abstain on not-totally-acceptable resolutions, making an explanation of vote to record their reservations. Despite the heated atmosphere caused by the polemics during the WDC and the Indo-Pak debates, they quietly participated in the effort to find a generally acceptable WDC resolution. Their votes may reflect the effect of UN give-and-take and/or the results of soundings with the Third World. The Chinese continued to present themselves as insufficiently prepared to participate in this UNGA and there is no reason to doubt that this lack of preparation and familiarity with UN processes did limit their role. Also, if they had been better prepared they probably would have tried to get stronger language in resolutions [Page 903]rather than simply voting yes and explaining that they would have preferred stronger language.
During the new year the Chinese will be able to focus on questions that were overshadowed by issues before the 26th UNGA: the role they will play in the fiscal problems of the UN; the substantive Secretariat posts they want and for which they will be lining up qualified PRC nationals and adding to the number of qualified Chinese-language interpretors and translators. Now that the drama, pressure and public spotlight of the 26th UNGA has passed, the Chinese will have more time to attend to these and other questions.
  1. Source: National Archives, RG 59, Central Files 1970–73, UN 3 GA. Secret. Drafted by Sally Werner; cleared by David L. Stottlemyer, Robert W. Kitchen, Ernest C. Grigg, Harry E. T. Thayer, and Michael H. Newlin; and approved by Newlin. Repeated to Islamabad, London, Moscow, New Delhi, Ottawa, Paris, Taipei, Tokyo, Hong Kong, USNATO, and the SALT delegation.
  2. Dated December 6, 1971. (Ibid., UN 22–2 GA)
  3. Dated December 8, 1971. (Ibid., DEF 18–3)
  4. Dated December 17, 1971. (Ibid., POL 33–3)
  5. Dated December 18, 1971. (Ibid., DEF 18–3)